• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



War Department, C.S.A.

Richmond, Va., August 17, 1864


General R. E. Lee,

Commanding, &c.:


General: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of the 14th instant, and hear with regret of the increased tendency to desertion manifested by a portion of your army. I can well understand the discomfort and suffering which troops in this weather must suffer in the trenches, and I fear with you that the patriotism and self-denial of our soldiers may not always be proof against the temptations offered by the Washington authorities. I have received your recommendation of an order, which should operate per contra, as an inducement to the soldiers of the enemy to desert, and after conferring with the President and slightly modifying it, to conform to the suggestions made by him, I had directed it to be issued and sent to you. I hope it will operate advantageously to our cause. One of the particular causes mentioned by you as tending to promote desertion has, I am sure, no just foundation, unless misapprehension prevails among our troops.

Since receiving your remonstrance against the issue of authorities to raise new companies, and your exposition of the mischiefs resulting, finding your views confirmed by inquiries which I caused to be made in our other armies, I promptly revoked the new outstanding permits, and from that time have steadily refused to grant any more, so that at this time there is no authority to recruit or form new organizations in Alabama or elsewhere issued from this Department. The attention of the Department has likewise been engaged in endeavoring to discover and return all deserters who have recruited in other companies to their proper commands. In regard to the dissastisfaction said to have resulted in the Ninth Alabama Regiment from the dismissal of a favorite officer I have no information; but I will cause inquiry to be made, and if any remedy can be found will endeavor to apply it.

I am glad to have your suggestions on these or any other matters relating to the organization and improvement of your army, and hope to profit by them.

Very truly, yours,

James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War




Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 42, Part 2, pp. 1182-1183


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 August 14     

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved